King of the Signs

November 3, 2011
Tower of London

"Castle. That way."

Found … outside the Tower of London (England). Pointing to … the Tower of London (England).

It’s elegant. It’s helpful. It’s honest. It’s the greatest sign ever made.



A Mildly Magnificent Modern Map

October 19, 2011

Not shown: Iceland. Chicago. Canada.

Since our humble days as hunter-gatherers, humans have created and shared maps to make sense of the world around us. To serve as models. To simplify. To point to food. And to navigate environments too big to otherwise comprehend.

Like many of us discovered in our youth*,  there’s something inherently fulfilling about maps. A good one will serve as a powerful link between our brains and the real world. By giving us a sense of context and scale while leaving out every detail, a great map will teach us as much as it will tempt us — tapping into our intrinsic nature to explore and chart new paths.

Here’s a nice map of our sprawling digital landscape and the growing influences of the ‘Internet Economy’. Far from the elaborate parchment creations of early cartographers, this map represents an emerging pattern of charting the intangible online spaces we increasingly inhabit. And different from other data-driven visualizations, it injects a subjective element while playing with relationships and space. It’s the little touches that make it work. The quirky plays on words (The Ocean of Spam, Blogger Isles. pfft.). The multiple layers. The ability to scroll side to side endlessly, like spinning a globe.

Kind of makes you want to go sailing, doesn’t it.

*My 4th-grade Orientation unit was glorious… a stretch of structured learning rivaled only by the Star Trek unit the following spring. What a year.

Is the “Eureka!” Moment a Myth?

September 28, 2010

Ever wonder where good ideas like the internet or wearable blankets come from?  Of course you have. Here’s one theory that comes with some compelling video work… quickest 4 minutes you’ll spend all week:

TED posted a longer version of Steve Johnson’s talk that fleshes out the historical importance of collaboration and idea incubation. He steps outside the frame of technology and focuses on creative inspiration and the problem-solving process itself. Pretty good stuff. Highlights include tangents on submarine warfare, Darwin, gravity, and the creative powers of alcohol versus caffeine.

New Song, Same Ol’ Dance

April 29, 2010

Yeah, I went there.  Timeless and wildly prophetic, the graphic tree sequence vividly illustrates an all-too-common pattern in today’s high tech development world. This version also demonstrates the power of enlisting an extra sense (that auditory one) to drive a point home. For the full effect of this diddly, play from your cube with the sound up, base up. Loud. Oh yes.

You’ve Got Mailbox

November 24, 2009

More interesting than your typical flower pot holder.

Walked by this the other day, had to look twice before seeing the mailbox underneath all the plants. How symbolic of the world we live in today. These things used to be superstars, the ultimate hubs for communication and information sharing all over the world. But no longer. At least in the information-sharing sense, real mail is dwindling, rapidly becoming a relic of the past.. though in this case, at least we got some nice urban decoration. Let’s make sure we’re pointing these things out to our children and grandchildren while they’re still around, before museums and junkyards will be the only places left where we’ll find them. Just sayin’.

Evolution Continues

February 28, 2009
From apes to ...

From apes to ...

Seen this one yet? Whether you view the cartoon as a playful jab at evolution …or a sobering commentary on the influence of modern technology on humans, it’s worth a look. Can you spot the hidden bell curve?

Blurry Crystal Balls of Technology

January 29, 2009

Now here’s a Top 7 list worth checking out: the Worst Tech Predictions of All Time, care of PC World.

Sure that thing works?
Sure that thing works?

High comedy – like many things are in retrospect – and a great reminder of how far we’ve come and how far off our powers of prediction can be.  

Can you guess which computer giant’s president told us 1943:  “I think there will be a world market for just 5 computers”?

Read the rest! You won’t be disappointed.

… and while we’re paying our dues to the past, here’s a TV clip from 1981 predicting the rise of news reporting on the internet.